AIA Billings Index Stays Positive.  Billings (blue) and inquiries (red) for the past 12 months. (The Architect's Newspaper)Today the AIA released the December results of its Architecture Billings Index (ABI), and we’re happy to report that the overall score is holding steady in positive territory for the second month in a row. Like November, December’s score came in at 52 (anything over 50 is positive). But AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker remains circumspect, noting “We saw nearly identical conditions in November and December of 2010 only to see momentum sputter and billings fall into negative territory as we moved through 2011, so it’s too early to be sure that we are in a full recovery mode.”

 

And…we have a winner!.  And...we have a winner! As Ice Cube said, the Eames “were doing mash-ups before mash-ups existed,” and the winner of our giveaway contest–featuring a limited edition poster of Ice Cube celebrating the Eames–was admiring the Eames before she knew who they were. Congratulations to AN reader/commenter Lori who proclaimed, “My grandparents collected mid-century furniture, and I loved the Eames before I had any idea what design was. Now that I know, I so appreciate that early introduction to clean, functional beauty.” As a consolation prize, we suggest rewatching archi-drafter-rapper Cube give a tour of an Eames Case Study House, catching up with the exhibition at Pacific Standard Time, or tuning in to the PBS documentary on the Eames’ life and work.

 

Eavesdrop> A Very Gehry Opera.  Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry.Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry. Frank Gehry will return to Walt Disney Concert Hall this spring—as a set designer. He’s at work on a “moving still-life on the stage” for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s May production of Don Giovanni. The plans call for moving the orchestra upstage on raised lifts, about four feet above the action taking place downstage. Meanwhile, in a recent Q&A with Wallpaper* magazine, Gehry revealed that things are “getting slow” for his firm, to the point that he is considering—gasp!—proactive PR efforts. “We’ve got enough things for the next year, but it’s not the same as it was a few years ago,” he said. “I’m old enough to quit, though, you know what I mean? I’m 82.”

 

On View> 1976: Movies, Photographs and Related Works on Paper

East
Monday, January 16, 2012
.
Still from Pendulum, 1976. (Courtesy the Artist / Paul Kasmin Gallery)

Still from Pendulum, 1976. (Courtesy the Artist / Paul Kasmin Gallery)

1976: Movies, Photographs
and Related Works on Paper
Paul Kasmin Gallery
515 West 27th St.
Through February 11

British-born James Nares has lived in New York since the mid-1970s, when Lower Manhattan was “a beautiful ruin,” according to the artist. While most celebrated for his large, single-stroke kinetic paintings, the artist has a long track record of documenting his fascination with movement and bodies in motion dating back to the days when he delved into many other media such as films and chronophotographs. The exhibition features five films including Pendulum (1976), in which Nares clocks a large spherical mass swinging from a footbridge, against the industrial backdrop of downtown Manhattan—evocative of the foreboding, dreamlike qualities also seen in Giorgio de Chirico’s surreal paintings.

More photos after the jump.

SHFT+ALT+DLT> January 13, 2012

Shft+Alt+Del
Friday, January 13, 2012
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SHFT+ALT+DLT

SHFT+ALT+DLT

SOM returns to LA with a new office to be led by Michael Mann, Paul Danna, and Jose Palacios, all coming en masse from AECOM. The new studio will start out with ten to 40 people in a temporary office, with plans to eventually find a permanent home in downtown LA.

The Boston Society of Architects announced the departure of executive director Margaret Wigglesworth. Wigglesworth, who only assumed the ED role in February 2011 and oversaw BSA’s move to a new home, will be returning to the commercial real estate sector.

In Chicago, Crain‘s reports that FGB, an architecture firm based in Oak Brook, has acquired Deerfield-based  SRBL, specialists in schools and institutional work, to create a 95-person strong office.

On January 18, John Hatfield will join Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens as executive director. Hatfield leaves the New Museum of Contemporary Art, where he has served as deputy director since 2008.

Fore Solutions, a green building consulting firm, has joined Thorton Thomasetti to create the Thorton Thomsetti Building Sustainability practice area, to be led by Gunnar Hubbard.

Eavesdrop> Libeskind & Son’s Big Bang.  Physicist Noam Libeskind collaborated with his father Daniel on a new Zumtobel light fixture.Physicist Noam Libeskind collaborated with his father Daniel on a new Zumtobel light fixture. Daniel Libeskind’s latest project promises to illuminate your living room and the origins of the universe. He has joined the likes of Zaha Hadid and Hani Rashid in collaborating with Zumtobel, the Austrian lighting company. Libeskind’s chandelier, “eL Masterpiece,” debuted last month at Art Basel Miami Beach and while its name evokes a dodgy canvas proffered on the streets of South Beach, the design is actually an LED-studded feat of quantum complexity. Enter Libeskind fils, Noam, a rocket scientist at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, who was tapped by his father to whip up an algorithm that controls the chandelier’s 1,680 twinkling LED modules and tells the story of how light came into being. “By turning on the eL and watching it through its loop, you’re actually recreating 14 billion years of cosmic history,” explains Herr Doktor Libeskind.

 

Giveaway> Pacific Standard Time’s Ice Cube + Eames Poster

National, West
Thursday, January 12, 2012
.

Update: The giveaway contest has ended and we’re pleased to congratulate AN reader and commenter Lori for winning the poster!

At the end of last year, a video of the rapper Ice Cube waxing poetic about the Eames (“They was doing mash-ups before mash-ups even existed.”) made the internet rounds, warming the hearts of nerdy architects and designers everywhere. The homage was part of the high-octane promotion of Pacific Standard Time (PST), a series of exhibits and events in L.A. celebrating that city’s art and design from the years between 1945 and 1980. Promo materials also included a limited run series of posters featuring Ice Cube and other celebs.

Well, AN readers, your response to our previous blog posts on Mr. Cube was so enthusiastic that our friends from the PST team sent us the above hand-numbered poster (36 inches by 24 inches) to give to you! It’s in the office right now waiting to be shipped.

For a chance to win it, simply leave a comment below with a note about why you’re crazy about the Eames. We’ll randomly select a name from the commentors on Monday at noon (PST, natch) and contact the lucky winner via email.

Pacific Standard Time runs through April. Visit the PST site to see their line-up of programming, including the Performance and Public Art Festival January 19-29.

Eavesdrop> Smoke and Mirrors.  Eavesdrop> Smoke and MirrorsArchitect and set designer David Rockwell will be waving his wand over a new Broadway production based on the life of Harry Houdini. But this time, Rockwell won’t just be creating the sets, he’ll also be co-producing. The idea has been in the works for years, and now Rockwell and a glitzy team—Hugh Jackman in the leading role, Aaron Sorkin on the script, Jack O’Brien as director, and Kurt Andersen, who helped develop the project, as creative consultant—will conjure HOUDINI into reality by 2014.

 

On View> The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan

East
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
.
Columbus Circle in the late 19th century. (Courtesy MCNY)

Columbus Circle in the late 19th century. (Courtesy MCNY)

The Greatest Grid:
The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811–2011
Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue
Through April 6, 2012

In 1807, to head off health threats and a growing lack of habitable space, New York City’s Common Council commissioned a three-year project to organize massive land development north of Houston Street. The Museum of the City of New York presents The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811–2011 in honor of the bicentennial of the 1811 Commissioners’ Plan for New York, which established the iconic street grid from Houston to 155th Street. Along with the original, hand-drawn map of New York’s grid plan, other historic documents demonstrate the city’s physical development due to the grid’s application and evolution over time. Co-presented by the Museum of the City of New York, the New York Public Library, and The Architectural League of New York, and sponsored by the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, The Greatest Grid will be on display until April 6.

More photos after the jump.

On View> The House That Sam Built

West
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
.
(Courtesy Huntington Library)

(Courtesy Huntington Library)

The House That Sam Built:
Sam Maloof and Art in the Pomona Valley, 1945–1975

The Huntington Library, Art Gallery, and Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, CA
Through January 30, 2012

The exhibit explores over 100 works of renowned midcentury furniture craftsman, Sam Maloof (1916–2009) and his circle of friends, who gathered at the Maloof residence and workshop—which have become a central part of the dynamic Pomona Valley art community—to share a meal and their common interest of hand-crafted objects. The exhibit showcases some of the earliest Maloof pieces, such as a round, plywood coffee table with walnut legs, decorative arts and crafts such as ceramic works by Otto and Gertrude Natzler (above), an office chair made for the prominent industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, three iterations of his classic rocking chair, a table lamp by William Manker, among other objects. Visitors will also find two rare watercolors produced early in Maloof’s career. The exhibit is part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980, a Getty collaboration spanning six months, bringing together over 60 cultural institutions all across Southern California.

SHFT+ALT+DLT: December 23

Shft+Alt+Del
Friday, December 23, 2011
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SHFT+ALT+DLT

SHFT+ALT+DLT

Portuguese architect, curator, and writer Pedro Gadanho will join the Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Architecture and Design as a curator of contemporary architecture effective January 11. In addition to organizing exhibitions, Gadanho will supervise the annual Young Architect’s Program, which has recently expanded from New York to Rome and Chile. Read more details in AN‘s breaking news story.

In other museum news, James Cuno, the President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, has taken on yet another Getty role: acting director of the Getty Museum. In addition to supervising all of the Getty’s various holdings, Cuno, the former director of the Art Institute of Chicago, will now be back in familiar territory, overseeing the museum following the resignation of acting director David Bomford.

Other West Coast shifts: Behnisch Architekten closes their Venice, CA office, while Oakland, California-based VDK Architects, which specializes in the Science & Technology market sector, has merged with the architecture and engineering practice Harley Ellis Devereaux.

More mergers back East:Electric Lighting Agencies and O’Blaney Rinker Associates are joining forces and combining their lighting and control system specification businesses in New York City.

Dwell magazine regrouped this fall following the departure of editor-in-chief Sam Grawe and also established a New York editorial outpost; executive editor Amanda Dameron was promoted to editor-in-chief and Alejandro Chavetta was bumped up from art director to creative director. Kelsey Keith departed Curbed NY to join Dwell as a New York-based senior editor.

Upward March: Billings Index Regains Positive Territory

National
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
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Billings (blue) and inquiries (red) for the past 12 months. (The Architect's Newspaper)

Billings (blue) and inquiries (red) for the past 12 months. (The Architect's Newspaper)

The Architecture Billings Index is up, hitting 52.0 in November, the first positive ground since touching 51 in August (anything over 50 indicates an increase in billings). The roller-coaster volatility of the past few months—we held our breath and skipped reporting September’s down and October’s up—suggests cautious optimism that the index which tracks the approximate nine-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending is finally in a solid swing upwards.

Continue reading after the jump.

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